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Falls Leading Cause of Serious Head Trauma for Children

Seatbelts and bike helmets can help prevent severe head injuries, experts say

THURSDAY, Nov. 13, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For children under the age of 2, falls account for 77 percent of head injuries, and for children aged 2 to 12, falls cause 38 percent of head injuries. Among teens aged 13 to 17, head injuries are most often caused by assaults, sports, and car crashes. These findings were published in the Nov. 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

For the study, the researchers used data collected from 2004 to 2006 from emergency departments in 25 U.S. hospitals. Among the children in the study, 15,908 (37 percent overall) had a computed tomography (CT) scan: 32 percent of those under 2 years of age; 32 percent of those aged 2 to 12; and 53 percent of those aged 13 to 17.

In all, 7 percent of those who had CT scans had a traumatic brain injury and another 3 percent had skull fractures, the investigators found. The most common injuries were various types of brain bleeds, with half of the children having several types of head injuries. Among all the children in the study, 78 died (0.2 percent). Of the children with traumatic brain injury, 17 percent had brain operations and 43 percent of those had more than one procedure.

Among children who suffered a head injury in a car accident, fewer than half were wearing a seatbelt. Children injured in bicycle accidents were wearing helmets less than 20 percent of the time, lead researcher Nathan Kuppermann, M.D., M.P.H., a professor in the departments of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, told HealthDay.

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